Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How can a young man remain sinless?

First - don't let them watch TV.


The Psalmist asks, and so do parents...

And many times, young men, as well as older men - with 'arrested development'.  (Sound the dramatic music!)  Seriously - it is a perennial question, and one perhaps asked with a greater sense of urgency when kids are encouraged to be gay just because they feel 'attracted' or curious about same sex BFF's and sexual curiosity and teenage infatuation - for a schoolmate, team mate, coach, teacher - whomever an emotionally immature kid happens to have feelings for.  Guided as they are today by television, film, pop music, fashion, trend and inappropriate sex-ed programs in school, it is almost as if young people do not have a chance to 'remain sinless'.  Socially and culturally conditioned and coerced to make sexual preference choices at an early age - a lot of kids are sure to get it wrong. 

What's a parent to do?

One mother found a good priest and asked him to speak to her son - who in turn was willing to cooperate.  Sadly, the mother on her own tried to intervene with her son, but the young man was convinced being gay was alright these days, arguing, “It’s legal now, and everyone has the right to fall in love. Anyway, they have a special Mass for gays in Westminster and Jesus said not to judge”.

Thus we see the scandal caused by Catholic entities who encourage youth to accept their sexual inclination and or temptations as fixed and immutable sexual orientation - when even the 'out and about gay activists', in and out of the Church, promote and celebrate the 'queer' concept of genderless sexual-fluidity; something which strikes me as a rather fortuitous, although unintended, defense of choice and free will if there ever was one... it surely implies choice, don't you agree?  (Yes, I do.)

Anyway.  Read the post as written by Fr. D.  He's a compassionate priest - I'll reprint a sampling here:
I began by asking him to tell me his story, then asked why he thought it was OK to live a homosexual lifestyle. He told me his (Catholic) High School studies had presented him with several moral questions: abortion, divorce, homosexuality etc., where they were asked to share their own opinions.

Thus began a discussion of the meaning of authentic sex as opposed to sexual acts; on Truth and subjective ‘truth’, and on what Jesus really meant when He said ‘Do not judge’. In my most mild tone of voice I explained that the person is not judged, but the act must be -and for the sake of the person’s union with God. He then asked, “So if the Church says only the act is wrong, does that mean I can have a relationship as long as I don’t have sex?” Strictly speaking the answer is yes, which I gave. But his next question was more difficult: “So can we share a home if we don’t have sex?” This answer is, as I explained, a qualified yes since it puts one in a situation where sin is all but facilitated, could cause scandal, and would require heroic virtue. “Yes, but it’s possible isn’t it? And I could still go to Communion.” I had to answer, “With the grace of God, yes it’s possible, but not ideal: it’s like putting a kleptomaniac in a shop all alone –can you tell me nothing is going to happen? I have to remind you it takes heroic virtue, and while you might think you can do it sitting here, the reality of it might be very hard”. Sadly I believe he left holding onto, “I can have a relationship and even share a life with someone as long as there is no sex”, not with an understanding of homosexuality as a disorder of sexuality, nor the difficulty of his house-sharing goal. While I had spoken the truth, all I could do was leave it with him, but I shall pray for him and for his family, and for all in their situation. What a sad state of play that we have created a generation who equate good and evil with what is legal and illegal, and not with the Gospel. - Catholic Collar and Tie
On living together - chastely and celibately.

Father D is correct about living together - it can be done, but it is not ideal - especially for the young and emotionally/sexually immature.  I commented on the post going further, suggesting this thought:
I think living together in chaste friendship works best with ssa persons who may have been in relationship but find themselves called to conversion, or find themselves able to accept Church teaching on sexuality and wish to re-order their lives accordingly - in this they can become a support to one another. For this to happen however, there needs to be some sort of emotional, sexual maturity, as well as conviction regarding Catholic teaching and the recognition/understanding that ssa is objectively disordered.

Unfortunately, this maturity is often lacking in a young man educated in the liberal - permissive, pro-choice environment of today's Catholic and secularized education system. Indeed it would require heroic virtue and great maturity to live like that. - Terry
Fr. Blake of St. Mary Magdalen blog also commented on the post affirming that heroic virtue is neither that uncommon - he lives in Brighton after all - and is possible in many cases, saying:
I see many heterosexual couples who for one reason or another have to control their sexual desire, maybe more easily when they are older than in the first flush of youthful passion. 
Humanae Vitae presumes that we are in control of our sexuality, not it in control of us. Though temptation is increased by proximity, and although this young man has a disordered sexuality, in so far as he is a homosexual, it seems wrong to suggest that he will have an uncontrollable "mania" as far as his sexuality is concerned.



Heroic virtue is actually part of being a Christian, it is not rare, as celibates, we live it and witness it personally in our own lives. But you are right that this young man needs the sacraments and a healthy prayer life, to know the love of Christ, in order to be heroic. Without Christ there can be little heroism. What is also important is that he learns to deal with loneliness, which unless it is dealt with effectively saps heroism.
 [ ... ]
... The immanent danger for this young man is his emotional and physical attraction, it is easier to to keep a genii in a bottle but rather difficult to get it back once released. You are of course right that the problematic issues are of emotional bonding and sexual attraction and at the age of seventeen falling into culture that is hedonistic and destructive, and probably he doesn't quite understand that is actually what he is choosing, it is part of the package. - Fr. Blake comment.
Mutual support.

I contend it is difficult for a young man to think of being in a romantic but chaste relationship - living with a partner.  Commenters bring up the occasion of sin aspect, which is most likely present.  especially when 'gay-but-chaste-Catholics' try to say that kissing and hugging and spooning (I am so surprised people still use that term) are permitted - so long as there is no sexual/genital contact.  Really?  Are they nuts?  If you stick your tongue down your cute boyfriend's throat, someone is going to get aroused.  It's like the teenage argument that you can 'pleasure' yourself as much as you want just as long as you don't entertain/dwell on impure thoughts and have an actual orgasm.  Don't kid yourself - you are so disordered if you do.

My contention, affirmed by many priests, is that same sex attracted friends, and yes, former partners, can and do remain together and live chaste and celibate lives in accord with Church teaching.  These people have come to accept Church teaching, but more than that, they embrace it as a means to sanctify their lives through mutual support.  The occasion of sin thing is so over for them - they are mature, committed persons, intent upon ordering their lives according to God's will.  As I always say, "the Church does not bind up burdens for men too heavy to carry."   Meaning, the Church calls all persons to holiness and chastity.  People are wrong to assume that a gay relationship is the same as a heterosexual relationship.  It is not - as you perpetuate that theory, you inadvertently lend support to the same sex marriage proponents.  Think it through, and you will see what I mean.  Gay sexual relationships need outside stimulus to endure - it isn't a love thang.

Who wants to be Catholic?

It is not at all uncommon for divorced and remarried couples to reconcile with the Church and remain married (civil marriage) to one another, albeit living in continence as brother and sister.  It is and can be done.  (I'm not suggesting gay relationships are the same as civil marriage; although in some States they can be legally recognized as such, it isn't my point here.)  As Fr. Blake rightly points out, emotionally mature individuals can attain control over their sexual impulses and need not be subject to any uncontrollable mania in regards to their sexuality.  It goes without saying such situations are discussed and discerned in the context of sacramental confession and or spiritual direction.  It ought not to arouse or concern the curiosity of fellow Christians who may imagine scandal where none is present.

Catholics need to understand that disinterested, chaste friendship is a necessary support for those striving to live according to the Gospel and Church teaching.  I have friends who have been together for decades, whose friendship has matured and who have pretty much integrated the sexual inclinations and often find themselves living a chaste and celibate life due to aging and frankly, disinterest.  I tell them - "Now you can come back to the Church!  Now you are free to return to the sacraments!"  On occasion I get the reply, "Are you nuts?  Catholics hate homosexuals.  We've been together for 40 years, and yet they would demand that we separate, dissolve our properties and live alone."

And they don't believe me when I tell them otherwise.


Readers:  If you are gay and want to return to the Church - repent, go to confession and just do it - just start going to Mass and praying - you don't have to announce it to the world or make a show of it.  You don't have to see a therapist, you don't have to join Courage - although you cannot join Dignity and other such groups - avoid them completely.  Pray and seek direction from a good priest.  Pray and frequent the sacraments, and especially pray the rosary.  You will be guided to the truth in all of its splendour, and you will find authentic peace and joy and freedom of spirit - you will not be alone.

“How shall the young remain sinless?
By obeying Your word.” - 119: 9-16


Link:  In 2006 I did a similar post titled: The low spark of low-rise pants - asking the same question, I thought it was pretty good.

14 comments:

  1. I was really impressed with the mother's reaction and advice (as well as that of the priest). Would that there had been such examples in my own youth. We need to pray for the mother, the young man in question and for this wonderful priest.

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  2. Without wanting to be flippant, there is no such thing as "remaining sinless". We were not born sinless, nor does God expect us to be sinless. Christ died because we are sinners, and if we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves. That is why the Sacraments are not optional extras. We cannot have any choice over whether or not we receive them. They were intended by our Creator, Who instituted them Himself when He walked on earth, to be part of the weekly cycle of our lives.

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    1. Another translation has it 'how can a young man remain pure?'

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  3. Hello, new reader here. Just for the sake of curiosity, why is this about young men in particular? Does anyone encourage lesbian women to live together chastely for companionship?

    And why, if this is true about the Church allowing gay men to live together chastely, does it seem like there's a higher standard of morality for single, straight people? My understanding is that two people of the opposite sex would not be encouraged to live together for companionship, even if there is no occasion of sin between them. You mention that ssa and straight relationships are not the same without saying why there is an extra allowance made for the former.

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    1. Dear Charming,

      I don't know anything about the former. Although I have known and do know men and women who are friends and share a house and live chastely 'two-gether' as friends. Just friends, mind you. Some even shared apartments - they had separate rooms, separate beds, and separate lives. I don't see the problem.

      As for lesbians - I don't know a thing. To be honest - and very seriously - I can't even imagine the attraction, and though I've met some, I was never, ever interested enough to find out anything about their romantic/sexual interests. I'm not kidding. (There are several in my neighborhood who share houses and I have never once asked them about their personal, intimate lives or interests: We talk gardening and animals and pets and travel and art and food and the weather. I don't even know their religion.

      I do appreciate your question however, and I understand how my post might suggest other circumstances that may be morally iffy. For instance, I suppose one could ask: What about remarried couples whose teen children now live together as a family? Are the teens, who are brother and sister just because of marriage going to have sex with one another some night when the parents are out, just because their hormones are racing? Should they never be left alone - just in case? Should they be sent to separate boarding schools? Or perhaps a permanent, live-in chaperone like Alice on The Brady Bunch would solve the problem?

      I'm not being snarky in reply to your question, but I just want to point out that we can make up all sorts of scenarios as a result of my post which is mostly a comment on another priest's post, regarding a specific question. The issue I'm discussing here is centered around the idea of male homosexual friendship and the practice of chastity in fidelity to Catholic teaching and the commandments.

      It is of course, just my opinion and observation, and not an attempt to interfere, judge, direct or dictate how anyone else must live their life. For that type of thing, I always recommend one obtain the advice and direction of good, faithful, Catholic priests.

      God bless you for permitting me to make this clear to others who may read the post or may pose similar questions.

      Thank you,

      Terry

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    2. Forgive me for not explaining why there is an allowance made for the former - the idea of 2 males cohabitating. Ordinarily it is not encouraged, pastorally, in certain circumstances it is just a given that older adults would continue living together - because they are most likely living chastely anyway. Some readers will have ready arguments for that as well - but please remember I am only speaking to individual situations - not promoting a general rule or general acceptance of gay lifestyle.

      Ultimately, these are matters of conscience between individuals and their priest, and in the case of young people, their parents. Fr. D discussed it on his post and I offered my response.

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  4. This is a very beautiful post, Terry. I pray that those whom God is callin to chastity and who would get the most benefit from your advice here, will find this post and allow God to touch their hearts.

    BTW, I know a former-lesbian who had left the lifestyle long behind, is now a very devout Catholic and now lives with another woman of similar background, for moral support. So yes, "Charming Disarray", of course this advice applies to women as well as men with ssa.

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    1. Praise God! Thanks Gette.

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  5. Hi Terry,

    Thanks for addressing this issue.

    I agree that two men or two women who were once sexually active, but who have since experienced a conversion towards Christ, the Church, and chastity, can become a mutual support in their ongoing conversion, even while they continue to live together. There will be struggles along the way, but it's more likely that the friendship and support they provide each other will outweigh the possibility that they will continue to be an occasion of sin for each other. As you mentioned, it's even likely that sexual temptation for them is lessening or mostly even absent. They need the guidance of a spiritual director who knows each of them well and who has a good grasp of their particular circumstances.

    In one such situation, as the two men moved towards chastity even while continuing to live together, they made a point of letting anyone who knew about their former relationship know that they were now living together simply as roommates and friends, in separate bedrooms, and they stopped referring to themselves as "partners". This latter step was also important, because it removed the appearance of scandal.

    As you said, this scenario can work for those who were formerly sexually involved with each other and who are now moving towards chastity and spiritual maturity; however, I agree that it's never advisable to recommend to a young person that he or she actively seek out a "romantic, chaste relationship" and then set up house with the person they've fallen in love with - i.e., live together, have an exclusive in-love relationship, with the expectation that they will not be tempted to engage in sexual activity, especially if they've rationalized that it's alright to engage in everything else (i.e. "making out"), except for genital contact. I think this advice would definitely set someone up for a fall.

    In the earlier scenario, we're talking about people who are on the road to deeper conversion - in the latter scenario, we're talking about encouraging someone to enter a scenario where he or she is more likely to choose sexual involvement over chastity. This could lead to a decision to stay way from the sacraments, and there's never any guarantee of return (although there's always hope).

    Anyway, there's my 75 cents worth on that...

    God bless,
    Tina

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  6. (Slightly reworded from my previous comment - please feel free to delete the previous comment.)

    Hi Terry,

    Thanks for addressing this issue.

    I agree that two men or two women who were once sexually active, but who have since experienced a conversion towards Christ, the Church, and chastity, can become a mutual support in their ongoing conversion, even while they continue to live together. There will be struggles along the way, but it's more likely that the friendship and support they provide each other will outweigh the possibility that they will continue to be an occasion of sin for each other. As you mentioned, it's even likely that sexual temptation for them is lessening or mostly even absent. They need the guidance of a spiritual director who knows each of them well and who has a good grasp of their particular circumstances.

    In one such situation, as the two men moved towards chastity even while continuing to live together, they made a point of letting anyone who knew about their former relationship know that they were now living together simply as roommates and friends, in separate bedrooms, and they stopped referring to themselves as "partners". This latter step was also important, because it removed the appearance of scandal.

    As you said, this scenario can work for those who were formerly sexually involved with each other and who are now moving towards chastity and spiritual maturity; however, I agree that it's never advisable to recommend to a young person that he or she actively seek out a "romantic, chaste relationship" and then set up house with the person they've fallen in love with - i.e., live together, have an exclusive in-love relationship, with the expectation that they will not be tempted to engage in sexual activity, especially if they've rationalized that it's alright to engage in everything else (i.e. "making out"), except for genital contact. I think this advice would definitely set someone up for a fall.

    In the earlier scenario, we're talking about people who are on the road to deeper conversion - in the latter scenario, we're talking about encouraging someone to enter a scenario where he or she is more likely to fall into sexual involvement than to choose chastity. This could lead to a decision to stay way from the sacraments, and there's never any guarantee of return (although there's always hope).

    Anyway, there's my 75 cents worth on that...

    God bless,
    Tina

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    1. Thanks so much Tina - very well said - better than I could have done. I appreciate your clarifications to what I was trying to express. Your 75 cents is worth a million dollars - I was praying for someone like you to chime in. Thanks be to God.

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    2. I also tend to be a little flip in the way I express things - so I should apologize - I am sorry.

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  7. Gosh - nothing to apologize for, Terry - at least not as far as I can see! :) Besides - maybe flippancy works better for some people anyway? ;)

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  8. I don't think I am smart enough for modern life anymore, Terry ;)

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